Every business has to have customers to sell to so that a profit can be made. Sometimes companies have great services or products, but fail due to their of lack of ability in finding the right customers. There are a number of ways in which companies can find and retain customers, from cold calling to collaborating with other firms. This article will examine a number of these options.
Companies that are new, launching new products, or needing to replace customers have to try a number of different methods to find new customers. However, the majority of companies will be working with a limited budget to find customers. Large multi-national companies can have multi-million dollar advertising and marketing budgets to launch new products. This means that they can purchase a variety of online and offline advertising, organize promotions to build traffic, and launch a multi-media public relations campaign to increase their brand's visibility and awareness. Nevertheless, for the small firm who has one new product that needs to find a few customers to make payroll, the budget for finding customers will be extremely limited and there will need to be creative ways to get their product noticed.
Generating Sales Leads
There are a number of ways a company can find its first customers or find more customers. The methods of the same if you are a one-man business or a medium sized business with dedicated sales professionals.
- Cold Calling - This is the least favorite method of anyone in a sales function. This is where a sales person or business owner is calling a potential customer and giving them a sales pitch without them expecting it. The success of this type of method is all down to the list of potential customers. Many companies offer lists of certain types of consumers or businesses that can be purchased. The lists are created by selecting certain parameters such as location, business type, yearly income, size of business, or one of many hundreds of parameters. The more specific the list the better the chance that someone on this list will listen to the complete sales pitch. It is not a sale, but a lead.
- Networking - One step away from cold calling, is finding potential leads from people that a business owner has some tie to. This could be through a local chamber of commerce, trade shows, trade organizations, previous employers, vendors, or any number of people and organizations where there is some connection. Of course, today there are many options available on the internet, through sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. On these sites, it is possible to interact with potential customers directly and generate potential leads.
- Collaboration - Working with other businesses can produce better results. By working with another company which is not competing with your directly but looking for similar types of customers, then a collaboration could stimulate more sales leads. For example, if you are a manufacturer of baskets for bicycles, then collaborating with a new bicycle manufacturer could help both companies in finding new customers.
- Advertising - Studies have shown that companies will spend between three and five percent of their sales revenue on advertising. This is hard for new businesses that have no sales revenue, but targeted advertising can produce goods sales leads. The key for new or small businesses is to use every advertising dollar to its maximum potential. Multi-national companies have millions to spend in advertising, but a company with a $5000 advertising budget has to be very specific in where each dollar is spent. It would be prudent for small companies to identify what form of advertising would be most effective in reaching their target audience. If you know your target audience is mainly over 60 years of age then online advertising would not be wise, and a print or radio campaign may offer a better return.